McNeese stays alive with combined shutout effort in 3-0 win over UIW

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McNeese vs. UIW
(Photo: Leighton Chamblee)

LAKE CHARLES, La. – Sixth seed McNeese had two pitchers combine for the Cowboys’ second shutout of the 2023 Southland Conference Baseball Championship to take a 3-0 win over second seed UIW in an elimination game Thursday.

The Cowboys are now 35-22 on the season and will face the loser of Thursday’s New Orleans/Northwestern State game in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. Friday. UIW’s season ends at 28-26.

All of McNeese’s scoring came in the third inning with two outs. Taylor Darden doubled and Schuyler Thibodaux hit a bunt single to put runners on. Brad Burckel plated the first run with a single, followed by Josh Leslie’s two-run double for a 3-0 advantage.

That lead held up thanks to strong pitching and clutch defense. The UIW second inning ended with a caught stealing, the fourth ended with a runner thrown out at the plate on a potential sacrifice fly, two runners were stranded in scoring position in the later innings, and the Cowboys turned a 1-6-3 double play in the ninth.

McNeese’s Bryson Hudgens picked up his first win of the season with 6.0 scoreless innings in his start, allowing five hits and striking out three. Brock Barthelemy earned his third save, allowing no runs in 3.0 innings of relief, walking one, allowing two hits, and striking out three.

UIW’s Micah Berens fell to 2-5 after allowing three earned runs in 2.2 innings on four hits. Southland Relief Pitcher of the Year Steve Hayward finished his 20th game of the season, striking out five and allowing only one hit and two walks in 5.1 innings of scoreless relief. Jimmy DeLeon and Jamey Richey each had two hits. All seven of the Cardinals’ hits were singles.

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